The IT for Development initiative aimed to demonstrate how information technology could enable developing nations to accelerate economic growth and social development.
Bridges.org provided Markle with some of the research underpinning the work of the Global Digital Opportunity Initiative. Bridges.org is an international non-profit organization promoting Real Access to information and communication technology (ICT) by researching, testing, and promoting best practices for sustainable, empowering technology use to help people in developing countries improve their lives.
The International Rescue Committee used a grant from Markle to develop and implement the Child Connect Refugee Tracing Program for refugees and the Kosovar Family Finder. Child Connect is a software-based system designed to assist humanitarian agencies in their efforts to reunify separated children with their families. The Kosovar Family Finder Project provided refugees with location information for displaced family and friends through a database-driven directory.
With Markle’s support, the Center for International Development established the “Leadership in a Digital Age” project which included research, publishing and applied work that focused on the vital role that leadership practices play in expanding access to the Internet and other information and communications technologies in developing nations.
The Global Digital Opportunity Initiative was a worldwide public-private partnership between Markle, the United Nations Development Programme, and a broad set of private and public sector experts and organizations committed to increasing the impact of information and communications technologies to achieve development goals. This initiative focused on Mozambique and South Africa, which were selected for their range of geographic, cultural and economic circumstances. An important partner in this work was the United Nations Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) Task Force.
Markle worked with the Center for Democracy and Technology and Internews as the founding partners of Global Internet Policy Initiative, developing and promoting agendas for policy development and reform on a country-specific level. Participants led consultative, coalition-based efforts to identify legal and regulatory impediments to Internet development, and worked with local initiatives to integrate open Internet principles. GIPI analyzed Internet-related laws in Nigeria, India, and Ukraine, and conducted an assessment of information technology policy needs in Eastern and Central Europe.
Markle provided funding to the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation for the International Communications Policy Workshop. This workshop created an opportunity to alleviate policy problems through collaboration between heads of communications regulation in developing countries and leading experts in communications, economics, technology, law, and policy.
Markle provided support to Voxiva for its early development. Voxiva is a social venture that aims to expand ICT services to poor communities in developing nations with a particular emphasis on public health information and providing an effective means for sending and receiving information needed to monitor diseases and epidemics or distribute medication. This is done through a low-cost, telephone-based technology that extends Internet-like functions and information to its users.
Markle worked with the World Resources Institute (WRI) to generate greater understanding within the business sector about the potential of information and communications technologies in developing nations. WRI used case studies of entrepreneurs in developing nations, along with additional research to demonstrate the market and development potential of technology-oriented enterprises in poor countries. The final report, What Works: Serving the Poor, Profitably, focused on innovative business models.